I have started watching the documentary series The Keepers on Netflix. This show so far follows a woman, who later in her life, remembers horrible acts she endured as a teen. The memories disrupt her life, and she tries to do what she believes is the right thing. She struggles with the knowledge that she didn’t do anything about the abuse at the time, and is trying to rectify her suppression of the abuse.
I can recall so many things about my own abuse. But I know that there are so many other things that I do not remember. I have trouble recalling events in relation to a time line. The fear of my family being hurt for me saying anything, the fear of the death of family members who I loved very much. The fear of my own life being taken. These are all things that I dealt with as a thirteen/fourteen year old girl. These are things that a typical young teenager does not deal with. For that matter, these are things that anyone living an abuse-free life, no matter what age, does not have to deal with.
Threats were made to me in a manner which I believed them, and they scared me into being the submissive young girl that did not fight back. A girl that laid there in bed at night escaping in my mind to a place where nothing was happening. A girl that didn’t care about herself any more, everything was done now to protect other people from the hurt that would be my fault for speaking up.
I vaguely recal a bullet, shiny brass with black magic marker writing scrawled on it, being shown to me. The implication was clear, and not much had to be said by him. The name written on the bullet was the name of my brother-in-law, who was working for a local sheriff department and in training to be a police officer. I loved my sister, her husband, their baby. I loved them very much and it terrified me to think that if I said anything, harm would come to them. So, I didn’t say anything for a long time.
I don’t know what it is like to not remember the abuse. I do remember, and it is painful, but I have been able to work through it. I do know what it is like to not remember details. I don’t remember… I just don’t remember it all. There are times when I try to remember and I just find myself more confused. Do I really want to remember? Not really. I want to forget that it ever happened. But then I would be forgetting a large part of my life that shaped who I have become.
The ‘Jane Doe” on the Netflix series, who tried so hard to make it right after twenty-something years, had shaped her life by suppressing the abuse. When it did come out so many years later, she lost who she was. She suffered more after trying to help herself and possibly help others. This is just not right. It seems that there is a stigma about people who have memories resurface after so many years pass by. What do people understand about this who have never suffered anything so traumatic that they at least want to shut it out?
So I encourage anyone who feels that they are remembering any kind of traumatic event in their past to find someone to talk to. Remembering events like this can feel shameful, embarrassing, painful, hurtful. Remembering such events can bring on emotions that you do not expect. Remembering is difficult.
There are always people who want to have faith in everyone they know, who do not want to believe that someone they knew and looked up to could be guilty of such terrible things. There are those who will just not believe you, who will think that for some reason you must be making it up.
That doesn’t matter. For every person who doesn’t believe your story, there are others out there who will. Others who can give support, lend an ear, point you in the right direction. There are support groups available. There are legal resources, and safe houses, counseling, and hotlines. If you are remembering abuse, feel trapped or alone by these memories, find some way to help yourself.
- Support Group for Abuse Vicims – free online support group – you can view as a non-registered user or create an account to access other features.
- After Silence – support for rape victims – free online support for rape, sexual assault, and sexual abuse survivors where you can share without identifying yourself
- List of Support Groups & Resources – a list of groups & resources available